Life-saving surgery for baby born with rare condition

When Cecilia Sit, 40, found out during her pregnancy that one of her twins had a life-threatening condition, she knew she would fight for him.

Her sons, Jed Russell and Michael Russell Jr., were born on February 16.

 She said it was relatively early in her pregnancy when Jed was diagnosed with a giant complex occipital encephalocele, a lesion on his head containing parts of a triplet that never fully formed.

When he was born, his head was one and a half times the size of a normal baby’s.

“In November, we had a scan, which would have been about four months in, and the scan showed the extra growth on baby Jed,” Sit said, recounting her experience.

“I started looking through what’s going on, because it was a big situation, and I was introduced to Dr. Lochan as the pediatrician.

“…Normally the children are terminated when you find out something so huge, because you don’t know if it will be a normal child, brain cells being out of the brain with a hole in the back. Will the baby stand? Will he cry, eat, suck? Those are the questions that I had to go through [and] because I had twins, my decision was definitely not to terminate. And we had hopes and we kept him.

“And up to two weeks before my delivery, because it was early, Dr. Dupuch said, ‘Cecilia, we don’t know what’s going to happen. You know that, right?’

“I said, ‘Yes, I know.’”

Jed Russell after the surgery.

She added, “I was very hopeful. I never thought negatively, although I was sad, because every time you think of it you want to cry. But I was like, okay, stop, because they’re feeding off my energy.”

Sit said the doctor asked her what she would do when the baby is born.

“I said, if he’s kicking and fighting, I’m going to kick and fight with him,” she said.

Professor Magnus Ekedede, a neurological surgeon, headed the surgery to save Jed on February 21. It resulted in the first successful surgery of its kind in the history of The Bahamas.

Ekedede said his team went into the surgery expecting the worst.

“The baby never died on the table,” he said.

“We anticipated that he might die on the table.

“…But look at what happened, what God can do.”

He added, “We are really happy with what we can achieve at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). PMH is not about bad things happening. We have a long way to go. We should do better, but still, we have a lot of good things happening there too.”

Sit said things are looking up for Jed.

“The baby’s condition is recovery, and we’re seeing that there’s a lot of closure,” she said.

“And normally only one out of 10,000 babies in the states normally would live, and live for how long and what quality of life is not determined.”

Parents Michael Russell Sr. and Cecilia Sit (center) with their twins, Michael Russell Jr. and Jed Russell, and Dr. Magnus Ekedede (second right, front) and his team.

However, she acknowledged that there are still some struggles ahead.

“We are going to make sure that the rest of his body is good because it’s not just his head,” Sit said.

“It affected other organs… Now we would have to make sure and get his heart checked up, because he had holes in his heart. And the ventricles are not growing straight.

“…So we’ll have to see, but like I said, he’s a fighter. His name is Jed, which means beloved of the Lord. So he can be Christian if he wants to. And then he has a Chinese name which is Ev Bot, which means he’s either going to be a professor or someone who connects things together.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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